|US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands as they meet in
capital's Esenboga airport. Rice expressed renewed concern about the slow
pace of democratic reforms in Russia. (Photo:
|US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (R)
and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shake hands in the Turkish
capital Ankara. Rice scolded her Russian counterpart the Kremlin's slow
pace of democratic reforms. (Photo:
ANKARA, Feb. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice arrived here Saturday on the fourth leg of her week-long Europe
and Mideast tour.
At the airport, Rice met with
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is scheduled to depart for a visit to
tsunami-hit Southern Asia Saturday evening.
Rice is expected to talk with Turkish leaders on the
strained relations over Iraq and, most recently, over Turkish criticism of US
failure to heed Turkish concerns over tensions in the disputed Iraqi city of
The top US diplomat's visit came against the backdrop
of strong remarks by the Turkish military and government that have implied
possible intervention in northern Iraq to stem what Ankara sees as Kurdish
attempts to dominate Kirkuk at the expense of other residents of the
The criticism aroused tensions not only between
Ankara and Washington but also between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds.
Jalal Talabani, one of the Iraqi Kurdish leaders,
said Erdogan'sremarks that Turkey would take its own measures to prevent chaos
inthe neighboring country were discomforting.
"If Turks claim their rights in Kirkuk, Arabs will be
claiming theirs in Antakya and Kurds will do so in Diyarbakir," he said.
Several Turkish political parties and non-government
organizations on Saturday staged a protest against Rice's visit toTurkey.
The protestors walked to the US embassy in Ankara and
left a black wreath at the entrance of the embassy, chanting slogans and
carrying banners of "US out of Iraq! Rice out of Turkey."
At least four protesters were detained by police.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is also in
Ankara on Saturday to meet Rice.
It is Rice's first overseas trip after she was appointed US secretary of state last month. Enditem